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Watched the Utah game on tape. The Celtics generally didn't perform as
impressively as in the Charlotte game even though the result was better
as they won in overtime. There was less passing and the defense gave
up a lot of easy shots by the Jazz, who shot over 50% for the game.
The Celtics second unit was on the floor for long stretches of the
game, playing 10 players for 18 minutes or more. Walker and Pierce
played the entire overtime but had played less than 30 minutes each
in regulation. The first unit was definitely playing significantly
better than the second unit this game.
The Celtics started Anderson, Cheaney, Pierce, Walker, and Potapenko.
Midway through the first quarter, Ellison and McCarty substituted
for Walker and Potapenko. Near the end of the quarter, Barros and
Eric Williams substituted for Anderson and Pierce. At some point,
Griffin came in for Cheaney also. The second unit started the second
quarter. Midway through the quarter, the entire first unit came back
in as a group. I didn't pay as much attention to the rotations
during the second half.
Onto the individual player performances. If the two games I've watched
are any indication, Pierce is an All-Star. He was basically unstoppable
again, shooting 8-10 from two point range (1-5 on threes, but they
were generally good looks). He can score in a variety of ways, taking
it to the basket and shooting midrange. He abused Russell, who is a
good defender. Russell did have a nice offensive game himself though.
Pierce showed great anticipation on another couple steals which led
to an easy assist to Anderson and an uncontested dunk for himself.
He also timed two nice blocks. The announcers talked about how he is
a legit 6'7" with long arms, and he is just going to be a nightmare for
defenders this year.
Walker had a good offensive game which was mostly spent taking it to
the hole. He attempted and missed one midrange jumper and three
3-pointers, but they weren't really stupid shots. At least one of the
three pointers was forced by the shot clock and I think he was wide
open on the others. One thing that I'd like to see him cut out of his
game: occasionally he still gets this idea that he wants to beat his
defender from 23 feet out with all the defenders between him and the
basket. Very rarely does anything good happen from this. He does a lot
better when the Celtics actually clear out the floor for him to take
it one-on-one, or when he gets an entry pass so that he's closer to
the basket. He didn't get many rebounds, partially because if he was
near the perimeter, he'd break for the opponent's basket when the shot
went up. He got some easy points from this.
Vitaly didn't have a particularly good game, shooting 1-5 with three
turnovers. He just doesn't play as well with his back to the basket,
which is what he was doing today. He got two 3-second calls and got
blocked too. He's better facing the basket where he can utilize his
nice shooting touch and ability to drive to the basket.
Anderson had the type of game that we've been hoping for since he got
here. Hopefully he can do it consistently. 14 points on 5-7 shooting
including the tying basket in regulation and a big three-pointer in
overtime. 8 assists against 1 turnover, didn't dribble too much, made
good decisions on the fast break. He did get beat on the dribble a
couple of times by Vaughn but really, he is really working on his
defense and is not getting beaten very often; in fact he beat his man
off the dribble more than Stockton or Vaughn beat him, so I don't
understand the complaints about his supposedly atrocious defense.
I think that Pitino is trying to get Cheaney going by starting him and
giving him a lot of playing time. He started off the game somewhat
tentatively and turned the ball over a bit but gained confidence as
he went on. 8 points, 4 assists, 3 steals. He has good anticipation on
the steal and quick hands and is a good fit in the Pitino system,
contrary to what some have said. Got another block also, which is
something that he does a lot better than Mercer did. He's certainly
an upgrade over Minor or Bowen, and I think we'll see him get better
as the year goes on. A nice pickup for only $2M per year.
Ellison still hesitates on offense but it looks like he can contribute
this year when our regular big men are out with injuries or foul trouble.
He brings some shotblocking and rebounding and passes intelligently.
He had this putback dunk that really surprised me too.
Williams was not getting the calls from the refs tonight which is why
he was 1-5 from the field. He made the same fakes and drew the same
contact but generally didn't get the whistle, which really limited him.
McCarty also had a tough night shooting from the field at 2-8.
Griffin had an excellent game for the Celtics. 9 points on 3-3 shooting,
5 rebounds including 3 offensive, 3 assists including a nice drive and
dish to Barros, and a great one-on-one steal on Bryon Russell in the
backcourt which was nullified by a charging call on Griffin that could
easily have gone the other way for a three point play. He showed an
ability to take the ball to the hole and make good things happen.
Another nice pickup who will do more for the team than Bowen did, in my
Barros started slow because his shot wasn't falling but kept at it and
ended up 5-11. The second unit needed his offense because Williams and
McCarty weren't scoring so well. He races up the floor but is a bit
out of control at times.